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April 10, 2013 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-04-10

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4B Wednesday Apr10 2013%The Statement

5B

ciating. I found Driscoll's contact information
through his professional job as a local opera-
tions director in Syracuse, N.Y. for Say Yes to
Education - a program that offers academic
assistance to Syracuse students in the city
where he resides. While many referees devote
themselves fulltime to officiating, others, like
Driscoll, view it asa part-time job.
"People are attorneys, they are police offi-
cers, firefighters - you name it. There is a wide
spectrum of professions that also officiate col-
lege and high-school basketball."
They're also fathers. Driscoll's three children
- including his 17-year-old son, who justbegan
officiating high-school games - and friends
will often watch a broadcasted game that he's
officiating, focusing on Driscoll instead of the
typical stars on the court.
I watched the last half of the Villanova ver-
sus St. John's game with this intent. As the lens
of the camera hugged tightly to the players, I
caught a glimpse of a striped black-and-white
shirt and a tall, dark-haired man at the bottom
of the key in Madison Square Garden. This was
Driscoll, and my first actual conscious sighting
of a man I'm sure I've seen on televisionbefore
- he's officiated six Michiganbasketballgames
this season. The score was 50-45, Villanova
leading, with 7:14left in the game.And the play-
ers of the two teams were fighting for points.
"The officials in the NFL would throw flags
on these plays," the announcers added after an
especially intense collision between players at
the St. John's hoop. But in the pressure of the
game, Driscoll kept his composure, possessing
the calm demeanor he described of his own

father. He weaved effortlessly across the court
to better view the action, always careful to stay
out of the plays but close enough to watch. It
almostseemed as if a force existedbetween the
players and the officials, each recognizing the
other's presence and circulating like planets in
orbit avoiding collision. The clash came when
Driscoll and his two fellow officials, poised
with whistles in their mouths ready to make a
call, did their job.
In Ted Hillary's 44 years as a referee, he
faced the challenge of players, coaches and fans
imparting their emotions, especially frustra-
tion, onto the officials after a call. His three
sons and wife, Kathy, used to attend the games
he officiated until it became too much.
"She had the children at the game, and they
were asking their mother, 'Why do these people
hate Dad?' She would come up with a million
excuses and then decided I'm not taking these
kids to anymore games," Hillary said.
Hillary refuses to attend basketball games
anymore due to the harsh vocal opinions of
many fans.
"It's real tough. I want to go up and slap
them. They are just sometimes so ignorant, and
then I think to myselfi No wonder these people
are yelling that out there, they don't know what
they're talking about."
But the question remains: why do fans act
this way towards officials? Hillary doesn't
know, and he mulls over this question more
than any other in our conversation. His tone
even suggests he hasn't given much thought to

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